I got an email last month from Jake Parker, the founder of Inktober, announcing in new event! During the original Inktober artists do a pen and ink drawing a week for the month of October. Tens of thousands of artists from all over the world partipate, but it’s only for one month. Inktober52 spreads the love out over the entire year…one drawing a week at a time. Jake sends out a “prompt” on Thursday to set the theme for the following week. How could I resist? I couldn’t. Five weeks in and here are my contributions. I’ll post the new ones a month at a time. I usually do my piece on Friday and post it same day on Instagram at #foxartist if you’re already there or here, which will take you to my feed. I’m also posting them in my FoxStudio Facebook group here. You can see what other folks are doing at #inktober52 here.
If you think this would be fun, it’s never too late. Pen, ink and paper, that’s all you need. Any pen, any ink, any paper. Send me a message and I’ll send you Jake’s email address to get on the mailing list. I don’t want to post it publicly.
I posted the first two drawings previously but wanted to show everything so far in one post. From now on it will be the new ones at the end of each month. Follow me so you don’t miss any of them!
Once upon a time (back in the mid 1970s), when I first had professional art aspirations, my first media was pen and ink, heavily influenced by medieval illumination and Alphonse Mucha. I used them for many years when I was a freelance graphic designer. In the early 1990s, after getting a BFA Illustration from the Academy of Art (then) College, I was able to realize a childhood dream and spent two years in private study with a local artist learning to paint in oil. And since 1997, that’s what I’ve pursued professionally. But I never quite let go of pen and ink, using it for sketching on my travels. Everything from sketching animals…
…to spending a morning drawing these ruins I saw in Evora, Portugal.
The revival of location sketching with the urban sketchers movement and more has inspired me to return to my roots. I’ve been using Sakura Micron pens for years for my Mongolia journals, both for writing and sketching, along with other trips, but had become increasingly irritated with them. They don’t seem to hold a consistent tip anymore, which means I can’t trust them. I did some research and finally settled on what now appears to the the high quality standard, Copic Multiliners, and bought a full set of them. But…dip pens still beckoned. They have a feel and make a line that can’t be created any other way. So for a year now I’ve been building a collection of nibs via Etsy and eBay and, using Jet Pens excellent reviews, buying a half dozen different bottles of ink, experimenting a bit between my painting work. But can I use them in the field without making an unholy mess? Well, late 19th and early 20th century artists like Joseph Pennell, Henry Pitz, Earnest Watson, Arthur Guptill and William Robinson Leigh did it. And that led me to the wonderful world of inkwells, including ones made specifically for traveling. I’ll be doing an inkwell post in the future, along with discussions of nibs, ink and paper. Once my SketchWild site launches I’ll be offering dip pen drawing instruction. If you think you’d be interested in that let me know in the comments. Over the past month or so I’ve been “test driving” nibs while also trying out possible painting subjects. Of of yesterday, here’s what I’ve done:
Over the last couple of days I’ve done a series of small drawings on the Strathmore 300 vellum bristol. This time, unlike the ones above, I did do a light preliminary pencil sketch. They took maybe an hour and change at most. The purpose was to explore how each nib feels when used for an actual drawing. All of them have things I like about them but I found I really did like the Gillott #303 Extra Fine quite a lot.
On the ones above I added the background shape both to pop out the white of the light sides of the animals and to see how filling in an area would work with that particular nib. All were ok, but want to experiment more.
And the Copic pens? Love, love, love them. I’ve joined artist Cathy Johnson’s “Sketch With Me!” Facebook group. She does virtual events one weekend a month. This is what I posted in October, an arrangement of squash from our garden. Copic pen and watercolor in a Stillman and Birn Zeta series wirebound sketchbook.
Inktober 21 “Cape Buffalo” Love these guys. One of my favorites. I’ve seen them home on the range in Kenya and even from a safe distance these big bulls have tremendous presence. This one was at Lake Nakuru National Park. Gillott 170 nib, Diamine Jet Black ink, Strathmore 300 vellum bristol.
Inktober 8- “Baby Spotted Hyena”- We spent around a half hour watching a clan of spotted hyena on an art workshop safari I took in Kenya in 2004. One of the adults was laying on the ground. Suddenly a little head popped up next to her leg and this cub came out into the morning sun. Platinum Carbon Ink pen on Strathmore 300 vellum bristol.